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Cut wages upset Fort Hood workers

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Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2007 12:00 pm | Updated: 4:53 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By James David

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – The president of Professional Contract Services Inc. was at Fort Hood on Wednesday to discuss wages and benefits for the cooks affected by the company's takeover of the full-service food service operations from the post's Directorate of Logistics.

The initial offer PCSI president Ace Burt presented was a starting wage of $9.94 per hour, which will be raised to $11.31 on Oct. 1.

This is still a far cry from the $15-$21 per hour that some cooks were making while under their DOL contracts.

Directorate of Logistics employee Craig Elliott said the increase in pay still won't sway him from leaving after his government contract expires on Sept. 17.

"I have a family of four, and they will make us pay a $250 per person deductible for the health insurance for up to three people," he said. "I can't afford $750 for health benefits, which doesn't even kick in for 90 days."

Elliott said employees have no choice but to join the union, a fact that has many of the cooks firmly against joining up with Professional Contract Services Inc.

"PCSI and DOL have no control over the benefits provided to the employees under the union's collective bargaining agreement," Burt said.

He is confident that the process of transition will continue to move forward smoothly.

"There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding this transition to PCSI control," Burt said.

He said that while many of the DOL contract cooks are unhappy with the changes, the wages and benefits the company is offering are above average for the Killeen area.

"There are very few comparable jobs in the area which offer a higher starting salary and benefits package," Burt said.

PCSI has been in business since 1996 and provides services that include hospital housekeeping, full facilities maintenance, grounds and landscaping maintenance, food service, data entry, warehouse operations, administration services, mobile lighting and HVAC filter replacement to the federal and state governments.

The company has five active contracts at Fort Hood: food service, police administration, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center grounds maintenance, a warehouse contract and a mail contract with the Air Force at Robert Gray Army Airfield. The total value of the contracts is about $6.7 million.

PCSI took over full service at North Fort Hood's REACT Dining Facility at building No. 56425 on Aug. 1 and is slated to take over two other dining facilities on Fort Hood over the next few months.

The company was relieved of full-service responsibilities in July 2004 because of massive mobilizations of National Guard and reserve troops training on Fort Hood. A temporary agreement was made to establish a civilian workforce of Army cooks to handle the short-notice and no-notice feeding of large numbers of troops in the field. With deployments stabilized, the Army has decided to go back to using PCSI.

"We are confident that the staffing and training resources to make a successful and seamless transition are in place," Burt said.

For Elliott and his family, the future is uncertain.

"I am just going to trust in God that things will work out," he said.

Contact James David at jdavid@kdhnews.com or call (254) 501-7463.

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